Margaret Boozer’s Frost Weathering— a “Geological Performance Piece”

By Phil Hutinet on May 22, 2014

By Phil Hutinet

Margaret Boozer at the May 10, 2014 induction of Frost Weathering
Margaret Boozer at the May 10, 2014 induction of Frost Weathering.   The piece rests above the speakers on a steel truss shelf.  Photo by Phil Hutinet for East City Art.

Red Dirt Studio founder and artist Margaret Boozer addressed an audience of 100 art enthusiasts and members of the Media on Saturday May 10, 2014 on the occasion of the induction of her latest piece Frost Weathering. The announcement coincided with the launching of the 10th Annual Gateway Open Studio Tour along Route one in the Gateway Arts District.

Boozer designed her work as an installation piece resting on a steel truss shelf in the Gateway Art Center’s lower outdoor courtyard. Boozer created the piece using local clay excavated near the new COSTCO superstore located in DC on South Dakota Avenue NE. The surrounding area has seen a flurry of construction activity recently, exposing piles of red earth reminiscent of what one finds further south in the Carolinas or around Atlanta. Boozer gives me the geological explanation— here in the DC area, we are on the border of the northern bedrock and the beginning of the southern alluvial plain.

Material mock-up.  Photo courtesy Red Dirt Studios.
Material mock-up. Photo courtesy Red Dirt Studio.

For Boozer, using this local clay provides “a sense of place” for Frost Weathering. During her induction speech, Boozer described the physiology of the clay and how evaporating water during the firing draws salts to the surface of the clay creating bluish hues. Intersecting the entire length of the work, a thin white porcelain vein separates the upper portion of Frost Weathering from the lower portion. This porcelain vein will intentionally cause stress fractures to the red clay as entering water freezes, thaws then cracks the clay as a result of the water’s expansion and contraction.

Material mock-up, oblique view.  Photo courtesy Red Dirt Studios.
Material mock-up, oblique view. Photo courtesy Red Dirt Studio.

As such, ultimately, Frost Weathering is a performance piece, albeit a slow-moving one from the human perspective, as the work will crack, split and crumble over the next half-century. The shelf, upon which Frost Weathering resides, will capture all of the crumbling clay morsels over time and bear witness to the ever changing piece above. Boozer intends audiences to view the piece and its ever changing appearance from multiple perspectives— from above at the 39th Street Gallery, from the side on 39th Street and down below in the courtyard at the Gateway Arts Center.

Artist's original rendering for site placement.  Photo courtesy Red Dirt Studios.
Artist’s original rendering for site placement. Photo courtesy Red Dirt Studio.

Boozer hopes that the extremely long time frame of the “performance” will “focus the viewer’s attention on what is happening in the moment, and to encourage the viewer to take a long view of anticipated future occurrences. It is meant to invite contemplation of natural degradation as a beautiful occurrence, and to dispel the myth that anything in our environment is permanent.”

The Gateway Arts Center is located at 3901 Rhode Island Avenue, Brentwood, MD. Frost Weathering can be seen at all times in the courtyard or from 39th Street.